Significant for ardent devotees of Joplin; less than essential for others.

ON THE ROAD WITH JANIS JOPLIN

A memoir of the author’s time working for the spellbinding Janis Joplin.

Most of the action in former road manager Cooke’s narrative takes place in venues like Monterey, the Chelsea Hotel and the Haight, but it’s when Joplin is at home in the Lone Star State, among straights and squares and beehive-haired classmates, that Cooke’s account takes off: “Most of her classmates look older than her,” he writes of an ill-fated reunion. “It’s as if the last time they had fun was in high school and they don’t expect to have fun ever again.” Though fretful, fearful and worn down by her well-known dependencies on the needle and the bottle, Joplin was all about making fun for herself and those around her, and though there’s a certain inevitability throughout these pages that things aren’t going to end well, Joplin emerges as someone we all might like to have known. That said, there’s also a gulf between Cooke and his subject; part has to do with her reserve and her unwillingness to get involved with an employee (airplane make-out sessions notwithstanding), but part has to do with Cooke’s failure to be in the right place at the right time. He chose not to stay at the Chelsea (“a decision I will later regret”), set up house on North Beach rather than in the Haight and otherwise exercised counter-countercultural tendencies (“I’m a beatnik, not a hippie”) that led Big Brother and company to hold him at arm’s length. Still, if his portrait of Joplin herself doesn’t shed much new light, Cooke is good on the politics of the music business and the decisions that might not have been in her best interests.

Significant for ardent devotees of Joplin; less than essential for others.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-425-27411-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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